Youths in Danger: Understanding The E-Cigarette Epidemic
A History of Misconduct
The American tobacco industry has been utilizing profitable but controversial marketing strategies since the early 1900s. For years, they advertised that smoking could even have a healthy upside like, ironically, a treatment for throat irritation. Certain companies advertised that doctors recommended specific brands. These companies knew, however, that their products were dangerous. The tobacco industry therefore engaged in a nefarious campaign to conceal the truth.
Big Tobacco also targeted youth smokers to “replace” smokers who would become ill with tobacco-related diseases. The industry used themes that would resonate with adolescents. Manipulative commercial branding like the Marlboro Man or Joe Camel are examples. Big tobacco companies gave away cigarettes to soldiers and paid celebrities to endorse their products during cartoons and popular television shows.
While conventional cigarette use has thankfully been declining over the last generation, tobacco companies seek new ways to create and sustain nicotine addiction.
History Repeats Itself
In 2007, the tobacco product landscape was transformed by the importation of the Ruyan Electronic Cigarette. According to its tariff classification, this product is intended to “act as a nicotine inhaler that has atomized smoke being forced out of the plastic mouthpiece tip.” American tobacco companies immediately jumped on the opportunity to market their own e-cigarettes as “cool” and “harmless” smoking cessation tools.
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study detailing the tobacco epidemic that is currently afflicting young Americans. According to this study, at least 20% of high school students are using tobacco products and that “e-cigarettes remained the most commonly used tobacco product among high (11.3%) and middle (4.3%) school students.”
The CDC’s survey results revealed that students started using e-cigarettes for three key reasons: a friend, family member, or celebrity used them (39%); they enjoy the availability of flavors (31%); they believe that e-cigarettes are less dangerous than other forms of tobacco (17.1%). In other words, the tobacco industry is once again marketing dangerous products to children to increase profits. The CDC’s study coincided with the 2016 U.S. Surgeon General’s report, which confirms that early nicotine addiction can impact a child’s brain development and nerve functioning.
Teen E-Cigarette Use in 2018
As of last year, there has been a dramatic and alarming increase in the number of teen e-cigarette users. At a press conference last December, Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services Secretary, explained, “The bottom line is we have never seen use of any (monitored) substance by America’s young people rise this rapidly. This is an unprecedented challenge. We are at risk of a huge share of a whole generation developing an addiction to nicotine – and that is not a future anyone wants for our country.”
Each year, the National Institutes of Health surveys approximately 50,000 teenagers from 400 public and private secondary schools across the United States. Their latest findings revealed that e-cigarette use has doubled amongst 10th and 12th graders since 2017. This translates to a 78% increase in high school student users and a 50% increase in middle school student users.
The Dangers of JUUL
JUUL e-cigarettes are renowned for their appealing flavors and a sleek design that looks like a USB flash drive. This brand has become so popular with teenagers that it has already amassed more than three-quarters of the e-cigarette market. In fact, JUUL sales reportedly increased by 600% in the months spanning 2016-2017.
According to the JUUL website, using a single “JUULpod” cartridge is no different than taking 200 cigarette puffs. Unfortunately, many young people don’t even realize that they’re inhaling nicotine and other addictive chemicals when using JUUL. JUUL cartridges also utilize salts instead of free nicotine, which streamlines the nicotine adsorption process. For this reason, young people who use JUUL products are more likely to become addicted to nicotine and even begin smoking standard cigarette brands.
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Attorneys Scott Schlesinger, Jeffrey Haberman, and Jonathan Gdanski of Schlesinger Law Offices are currently prosecuting a lawsuit against JUUL labs, Altria, and Philip Morris for violating federal racketeering laws and preying on American teenagers. Contact our firm today if your child is suffering from nicotine addiction due to a company’s negligent and harmful advertising practices. Our Fort Lauderdale product liability lawyers are committed to holding Big Tobacco companies accountable for their dangerous products. Our trial-tested legal team can investigate your case and represent your child’s interests both in and out of court.
Contact Schlesinger Law Offices, P.A.at (954) 467-8800 to schedule a free case evaluation today.